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The Last Queen

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  7,469 ratings  ·  512 reviews
BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from C. W. Gortner's The Queen's Vow.

Juana of Castile, the last queen of Spanish blood to inherit her country’s throne, has been for centuries an enigmatic figure shrouded in lurid myth. Was she the bereft widow of legend who was driven mad by her loss, or has history misjudged a woman who was ahead of her time? In his stunning new n
Kindle Edition, 449 pages
Published July 29th 2008 by Ballantine Books (first published July 1st 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Stephanie Dray
Some readers shy away from male authors writing historical fiction because men sometimes gloss over or are otherwise indifferent to the plight of women in history. Such readers should give Gortner a second look because he approaches women's history with sensitivity, appreciation and respect. The story of Queen Joanna of Castille is a heartbreaking tale of abuse and political manipulation. Like her more famous sister, Katherine of Aragon, Joanna showed remarkable tenacity and strength of will in ...more
I have come to the conclusion after reading this novel that to be a women born into royalty, up until present times, was a curse rather than a privilege. Women were used as pawns in a human chess match. I lost many hours of sleep reading hoping that something, anything, would go in Juana's favor (note: I forced myself not to use Google to see how it all would played out). Even the most stable of people would loose any semblance of sanity after the events she endured. Sane or not, in the end, she ...more
Sep 12, 2008 Lesa rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoys novels about strong women
If you're an Anglophile, or enjoy biographies of queens, you undoubtedly know the story of Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII's first wife. Catherine's sister was Juana of Castile, known in Spain as Juana la Loca. C.W. Gortner could have called his historical novel, The Last Queen, the lost queen or the forgotten queen. As he says in the outstanding commentary on his website, Juana of Castile, the last queen of Spain, is almost unknown outside of Spain.

It doesn't hurt to listen to his commentary be
The last Queen a Novel by C.W. Gortner tells the moving tale of Juana la Loca (the mad).

" She was if nothing else an extraordinary figure for her time"

I love Historical Fiction but am not a fan of novels about the English Throne and was delighted when I came across this Novel which brings to life Juana of Castile, the third child of Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand of Spain. who would become the last queen of Spanish blood to inherit her country's throne. This is a gripping and moving tale a
Amateur de Livre
Book Synopsis:

Juana of Castile, the last queen of Spanish blood to inherit her country’s throne, has been for centuries and enigmatic figure shrouded in lurid myth. Was she the berefet widow of legend who was driven mad by her loss, or has history misjudged a woman who was ahead of her time? In his stunning new novel, C.W. Gortner challenges the myths about Queen Juana, unraveling the mystery surrounding her to reveal a brave, determined woman we can only now begin to fully understand.

The third
I went back and forth on whether this was a two or three star rating for me. The beginning of the book is nicely written drawing the reader into the story as seen through the eyes of a very young Juana. The middle however started to become much too modernized for my personal taste. I felt like the author's writing was too forced and just didn't flow well. Some of the thoughts attributed to Juana were just too contrived and what I felt would have been unrealistic for a Queen of that time period.

Sara W
I gave this book two stars because I personally only thought it was okay, but I can see why other people would like it. This book reenforced my belief that I do not really enjoy reading fiction. I like history, and I like to learn, so I enjoy historical fiction that sticks close to the facts and close to what a majority of historians would agree happened - pretty much non-fiction with dialogue. I do not enjoy historical fiction that sensationalizes history by making things up or that takes a sma ...more
Kate Quinn
C.W. Gortner has one of the more interesting literary platforms I've ever seen for a historical fiction writer, particularly a male one: he takes the maligned women of history and gives them a sympathetic makeover. Not to say he merely takes a historical villainess and paints her white - he seeks merely to uncover and understand. His subject here is Juana the Mad, the famous daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain who trailed all over the nation weeping dementedly behind her husband's coffin ...more
Juana of Castile's life began amidst war, in between Spain's battle with the Moors, and her beginning would prove to be just as stormy as the rest of her life.

Born to the incomparable Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, Juana is the third child and second daughter. She is raised on the battlefield with arrows flying overhead and witnesses the fall of Granada in her youth.

When the matter of marriage to Philip of Hapsburg is raised, Juana is not happy at all to have to leave Spain a
An interesting idea, but poorly executed. Juana comes over as much too modern, and the characters a rather two dimensional. The whole thing becomes tedious about a third of the way through.
One word: remarkable. This describes not only "Juana the Mad" herself, but also C.W. Gortner's novel. In all honesty, I find Gortner to be hit-or-miss but The Last Queen is certainly a hit.

In this novel, Gortner not only grasps Juana and her life's turmoils in a smooth and entertaining way, but he also dives deeper into the emotional pool and throws elements of both female and human naturistic struggles and psychological effects into the mix. Was Juana born crazy? Was she driven to that point b
AFTER READING: Wow, another 5 star book. F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S! First let me mention that the status updates are wrong. There are 428 pages in this book! Now, I will try and summarize a teeny bit why I loved it, and let me say I am hooked, bait, line and sinker; I have to read more about the royal history. It is not fluff and swooning love affairs, and banquets and fancy clothing. At least not in this book. It is about what motivates people. All of us - both the common and the royal classes. Both toda ...more
I loved this book and will now seek out other books by this author. He paints a wonderful picture of "Juana the Mad". Through reading it, I only could wonder was she really mad, or did her husband and father, and those she loved and trusted create the fallacy that she was mad in order to take the thrown that was rightfully hers after her sister and brother's passing?

This book was very eloquently written. The author makes, what could be very difficult to understand, comprehensible for even the m
I didn't even finish this one. I guess it is okay but the problem is that I have read so many of this tragic queen books. She's forced by the status of royalty into a marriage; he's awful and cheats on her (as if any royal woman didn't know this stuff went on back then). Power struggle. Yadda yadda. The writing is good, don't get me wrong, I just started to feel like I've read this historical book before.
History writes off the infamous Juana 'la loca' as the insane Queen of Castile. However, C.W. Gortner finally gives voice to this courageous woman and the possibilty that her madness was not inherited but a result of years of torment, abuse, isolation and the final cruel blows of betrayl by the men she loved and trusted.
Books such as this are a subtle reminder that ''His''tory can be a clever instrument to suppress the truth of the greedy and ambitious.
Rio (Lynne)
I picked this book up because it was a bargain book. I never expected to love it and find a new author! Juana was a strong woman, ahead of her time. What she went through was disturbing. I know all about Tudor history and about her sister (Catharine of Aragon/Queen of England) but I knew nothing about Juana. I'm so glad C.W. Gortner brought her story to life! I can't wait to read his newest "The Confessions of Catherine de Medici."

Sharon Penman
I would definitely recommend this book. Juana is one of history's more tragic figures and Christopher does justice to her sad and compelling story.
I had to say I loved this book. A lot. I liked how Juana stood out from the rest of her sisters and it was nice to see Catalina (afterwards becoming Catherine of Aragon) have a "cameo" appearence in the story. Juana is very headstrong, and despite what she goes through, she manages to be steadfast and it was as if nothing could break her. I admired Juana a lot in this book. I liked how the relationship between Juana and Philip started. It was lovely and reminded me a lot of the love between Cata ...more
This book wasn’t my 1st choice after I had decided to read up on Juana, in fact, the book I started with was atrociously bad and the lack of availability of non-fictional accounts of her life led me to this historical fiction novel. I have a hard time with Hf novels especially when the subject is based on a real person. But having said that, once I tricked myself into forgetting that little fact, I really enjoyed this novel.

The pace was good, the writing flowed easily and I stayed interested thr
Feb 19, 2009 C.W. added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
THE LAST QUEEN trade paperback, with a special reader group guide and author Q&A.
Brittany B.
4 - 4.5 Stars.

Excellent book. Although I was left feeling a bit unsatisfied with the ending. I wish there had been more explanation about her captivity. Why didn't her people revolt? Did Ferdinand visit her? What was her life in captivity like?
However, I accept that the author may not have found any information on this.

It's difficult for me to understand why none of her children helped her, and why Katherine and HenryVIII didn't try to help her. (In their early years, he was very devoted to h
Oct 15, 2008 C.W. added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
The 1492 conquest of Granada makes for high adventure and royal intrigue in this second sparkling historical from Gortner (The Secret Lion). Spanish Princess Juana, 13, watches as her parents, King Fernando and Queen Isabel, unite Spain, vanquish Moors and marry their children off to foreign kingdoms for favorable alliances: Princess Catalina becomes first wife to Henry VIII; Princess Juana, who narrates, is shipped off to marry Philip of Flanders, heir to the Hapsburg Emp

"The Last Queen" by C.W. Gortner is a historical novel which gives a fresh perspective on the life of the enigmatic Queen Juana of Castile. Gortner skillfully weaves together the loose threads of fact and fiction into a rare and subtle tragedy. The story of the daughter of Isabel of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon, known to history Juana la Loca, is usually told with the emphasis on the passion between Juana and her faithless husband, Philip of Flanders. While Gortner’s retelling captures Juana’
Rating: 4.5 stars

I went into this knowing very little about 'Juana the Mad'. Sister of Catherine of Aragon, she became Queen of Spain in her own right, but her story is shocking and heartbreaking. I was so frustrated for her, learning about all the cruel betrayals she received at the hands of the men she loved: father, husband, son. Juana was strong and courageous despite her enemies, but ultimately, as a woman of the 16th century, she was powerless.

The book is very well researched and written.
Lígia Bellini
I love to read about history, but it's the first time, i read about someone in particular, and i feel really bad about what happened. Since Juana of Castile was born, she was educated to be a consort. Isabel I of Castile, always believed that her son, Juan, would be her future and only heir to the throne on Spain. So, Juana wasn't interested about politics, intrigues and power. All she knew was to be good enough to marry a King. But with so many events (and tragedies) in her life, she found hers ...more
Another great book by C.W. Gortner, which took him 7 years of research providing his personal point of view on Juanas story. ...more
Michelle (True Book Addict)
There is a reason why historical fiction is my favorite genre and this book is one of them. An author that can take an historical figure, write a book about him/her based in fact, and make it historically accurate and entertaining at the same time is truly gifted. I have been interested in Queen Juana since I watched a brilliant Spanish film based on her life called "Juana La Loca" (or "Mad Love"). Not quite sure how accurate the film was, but my interest was piqued and I wanted to know more abo ...more
Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand of Spain spent a lifetime winning their country back from the Moors. They finally succeeded in 1492 with the fall of Granada. They would use their four daughters to cement alliances with other European countries in order to obtain peace for themselves and their people.

Juana of Castile is like any other princess of the time, bound up in duty to her family and her country. At sixteen she is married to Philip, the Archduke of Flanders. It is difficult for her to leav
I gave this three stars because I do respect the incredible amount of research C.W. Gortner has clearly put into bringing forward the life of Juana, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain and sister to Henry VIII's first wife Katherine. She is a painstaking scholar who has devoted much time and energy to painting as accurate a portrait of Juana as the historical record will allow.

The problem? Juana just isn't that interesting. At least not at the time of her life that Gortner chooses to fo
The Last Queen is a novel of historical fiction based on the life of Juana of Castile. It begins with Juana's childhood and leads into her struggle to become queen of Spain. Juana faces heartbreak, love and betrayal among the pages of this story and the reader cannot help but root for her. Throughout the story she faces all hardships with strength and courage as she works to become the rightful queen of Spain and to protect her beloved country.

What an amazing read this was! I've begun to read mo
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European Royalty: C.W. Gortner 2 58 Aug 23, 2012 02:36PM  
Tudor History Lovers: C.W. Gortner 1 22 Aug 23, 2012 07:38AM  
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Bestselling author C.W. Gortner holds an MFA in Writing, with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies. Raised in Spain and half Spanish by birth, he currently lives in Northern California. His books have been translated in over 20 languages to date.

He welcomes readers and is always available for reader group chats. Please visit him at for more information.
More about C.W. Gortner...
The Confessions of Catherine de Medici The Queen's Vow: A Novel of Isabella of Castile The Tudor Secret (The Spymaster Chronicles, #1) Mademoiselle Chanel The Tudor Conspiracy (The Spymaster Chronicles, #2)

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“You may come as a proud prince today young Habsburg. But you shall travel many more roads in Castile in death than you ever will in life” 8 likes
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